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WASHINGTON — An oft-repeated tale says Catholic marriages fare only slightly better than those among the rest of the American population — which is said to have a divorce rate of about 50%.

If it were ever true, new research tells us it’s no longer the case.

The marriage was neither a civil nor a religious matter, but numerous religious obligations came as a result.

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No clear guidance emerged from last fall’s Synod of Bishops on the Family for divorced and remarried Catholics who wish to receive holy Communion. Over the course of 40 years as a priest, I have helped many couples pursue an annulment in order to be free to validate their current marriage in the eyes of the church.

While this may be appropriate in some cases, even a streamlined process will not address the real pastoral questions that the annulment process raises.

Some sociologists are even reporting that religious conservatives divorce , shows that couples who are active in their faith are much less likely to divorce.

Catholic couples were 31% less likely to divorce; Protestant couples 35% less likely; and Jewish couples 97% less likely, which in itself is quite impressive, I must say.

In explaining what an annulment is, I often hold up a pen with its point retracted.

The assumption is that the pen contains a cartridge and is suitable for writing.

But, many news outlets breathlessly reported that being a conservative Protestant increases your chances of divorce-- even being near those conservative Protestants does so.

In a recent article on Canon and Culture that I featured in my Morning Roundup yesterday, Andrew Walker interviews Dr. The article finds that conservative Protestants, and counties with higher shares of conservative Protestants, are indeed more likely to divorce—compared to Americans in other mainstream traditions, from mainline Protestantism to Mormonism to Catholicism.

Cap., among others, has suggested that streamlining the annulment process may be the best way to provide relief for couples whose second marriages are considered invalid by the Catholic Church because of a prior valid marriage that has not been annulled.

I usually begin by explaining in simple terms the reason why their current marriage is considered invalid by church standards.

This is a very hard nut to swallow for two people who have pledged their love and fidelity to one another and who have been enjoying the fruits of their relationship for more than a few years.

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